Reviews for Finding Stinko


Booklist Reviews 2007 April #2
A young runaway encounters particularly mean streets, but also find values worth clinging to in this gritty, engagingly offbeat page-turner. Again showing his knack for vivid characterizations, de Guzman, author of The Bamboozlers (2005), sends Newboy escaping from his eleventh--and worst--foster home into a hostile, run-down cityscape where he's repeatedly robbed and assaulted. But he also finds both a battered, smelly ventriloquist's dummy to do his talking (he's an elective mute) and a dancer with artificial feet who teaches him how to take chances without losing his balance. Readers will be riveted by Newboy's experiences as he struggles to elude his foster parents' relentless pursuit while meeting other street children--some dangerous, others who turn out to be real friends. ((Reviewed April 15, 2007)) Copyright 2007 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2007 Fall
At nine, foster child Newboy inexplicably lost his voice. Now twelve, he escapes from his foster home. Newboy finds Stinko, a beat-up ventriloquist's dummy, and discovers that he can make Stinko talk. With a quirky, matter-of-fact voice and a lightning-quick pace, the story delivers pure page-turning action. De Guzman unapologetically portrays life as dangerous, always made better with partners in crime. Copyright 2007 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2008 Spring
At nine, foster child Newboy inexplicably lost his voice. Now twelve, he escapes from his foster home. Newboy finds Stinko, a beat-up ventriloquist's dummy, and discovers that he can make Stinko talk. With a quirky, matter-of-fact voice and a lightning-quick pace, the story delivers pure page-turning action. De Guzman unapologetically portrays life as dangerous, always made better with partners in crime. Copyright 2008 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2007 #4
At nine, veteran foster child Newboy woke up one day to find he had inexplicably lost his voice. Now twelve, Newboy finally chances his long-plotted escape from the dread child-welfare system and his villainous foster parents, the Knoxes. Spending the night in a dumpster, Newboy finds Stinko, a beat-up ventriloquist's dummy, amongst the trash. Newboy discovers that he can, amazingly, make Stinko talk -- and what Stinko says is often surprising. With a personality all his own, Stinko persuades Newboy to help out other street kids despite his overwhelming desire to get out of town, and quick. With the Knoxes hot on his trail, Newboy risks his newfound freedom, braves thugs, and aids those in need. Thus the solitary Newboy builds a ragtag network of allies and, more importantly, something he's never had: friends. With a quirky, matter-of-fact voice and a lightning-quick pace, Finding Stinko delivers pure page-turning action. Despite moralistic nudgings, de Guzman does not baby his audience or pretend that life always turns out perfectly. Instead, he unapologetically portrays life as dangerous and not for the faint of heart; and as something always made better -- fuller -- with partners in crime. Copyright 2007 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2007 April #1
Abandoned as an infant, Newboy becomes part of the state's child-care system and over the next 11 years is placed in one foster home after another. At nine, he stops talking. Three years later, he's living at the Knox's, whose home is run with a military precision Newboy finds oppressive. He runs away and while hiding out in a dumpster, discovers a broken doll that once talked by pulling a string. Newboy finds that he can talk through the doll who he names Stinko, and Stinko becomes his conscience. Newboy hides from the Knox's for a time, but after he is re-captured, the friends he made while living on the street rescue him. Newboy's world is bleak, but things take a positive turn as he accepts the other homeless children as friends and once again is able to speak without the aid of Stinko. De Guzman's commentary on the potential pitfalls of America's foster-care system is honest in its portrayal of a boy who's been on his own since birth, his life on the street a powerful thumbnail view of that harsh existence. (Fiction. 11-14) Copyright Kirkus 2007 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2007 May #4

As De Guzman's (The Bamboozlers ) dark yet hopeful tale opens, a teen leaves her newborn in the lobby of a posh apartment building. She named him Newboy "because he was starting out new. All she wanted was for his life to be better than her own." But placed in the state's child-care system, Newboy is shuffled from one foster home to another and is branded a troublemaker for his frequent attempts to run away. At the age of nine, the boy stops talking ("He didn't do it on purpose.... He just opened his mouth one morning and nothing came out"). Three years later, Newboy sneaks out of his 11th foster home and heads to a nearby city, where he crawls into a dumpster to sleep. Amidst the garbage, he finds a battered ventriloquist's dummy and names him Stinko. Suddenly, Newboy can talk--in the voice of Stinko--and is delighted to be able to have a conversation ("What difference did it make if he was holding both ends of it?"). Using this dual-voice device to create revealing dialogue between the two personae, the author inventively fleshes out the youngster's character. Life on the streets has its perils--Newboy mistakenly trusts the scheming, dishonest leader of a group of young runaways and is stalked by the nasty foster parents from whom he escaped. Yet through his rapport with Stinko and several new homeless friends, Newboy finds confidence, happiness, hope and his own voice. The lad's plaintive musings about his mother's whereabouts and fate adds a tender note to this creatively layered, touching story. Ages 10-up. (May)

[Page 64]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2007 June

Gr 5-8-- In a prologue that sets the scene, Newboy's mother abandons him as an infant in a ritzy apartment building. After a brief rundown of his numerous foster placements, the story picks up with the boy, now 12, as he is dumped with the Knoxes, whose rigid schedule and uncaring routines provide his worst "home" yet. Some three years earlier, Newboy had simply stopped talking. Despite being tested and examined, he resists speaking and manages daily life in silence. Determined to escape the prisonlike foster home, he runs away and discovers "Stinko," a ventriloquist's dummy, in a garbage bin. Suddenly the words that Newboy would never let past his lips are coming out of Stinko's mouth. Life on the street is full of danger. Occasionally spotting the Knoxes' van as they search for him, Newboy finds allies and makes connections that help him survive. Stinko knows what needs to happen, even if he isn't very tactful or careful about expressing himself. In a world where redemption seems impossible, this parable of survival is riveting and yet manages a tender element while never lacking in bravado. Screenwriter de Guzman conveys a cinematic sense of events that keeps the pace moving and gives this short novel great reluctant-reader appeal.--Carol A. Edwards, Douglas County Libraries, Castle Rock, CO

[Page 142]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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